A common problem with car maintenance is a lack of illumination. Not being able to see what you are doing can make it seem like it is easier to take a car to a mechanic for even the simplest tasks. An LED headlamp or an LED flashlight can help you complete basic car maintenance tasks with ease, even if you are a novice.
1. Replace a Headlight
Pop the hood of your car and look for the bulb holder; this may be in the shape of a trapezoid and have three wires protruding from it. Take the wire harnessing from the bulb holder, which may be secured with a metal clip, plastic catch or a screw-on cap. Remove the old bulb. While holding the new bulb at the plug’s end, use a rag to wipe it down before placing it into the back of the headlight. Make sure that you cannot see the rubber gasket, plug in the wires and re-secure the light bulb. Test the light before you drive the car. Use an LED headlamp as you complete this task so you can work hands-free.
2. Change the Air Filter and Oil
Pop the hood of your car and notice how the old air filter sits inside its case. Remove the old filter and make sure nothing falls out of its box. Exchange the old air filter for the new one you purchased and replace its cover. Use an LED flashlight to help you locate where the nuts go on the air filter’s case.
To change your oil, first wait until the car is completely cool. Use a jack to elevate your car if it is on level ground. While wearing an LED headlamp, find the oil pan under the car and unscrew the drain plug. Allow all the old oil to drain into a recycling container. While that is draining, carefully remove the oil filter, making sure that the rubber gasket comes off as well. Use some of the new oil you purchased to lubricate the gasket on the new oil filter, and fill the new oil filter about 2/3 of the way with unused oil. Replace the old oil filter with the new one and properly secure the drain plug. Pop the hood, screw off the oil cap and use a filter with a thin mesh as you pour the new oil into the engine. Uses the dipstick to make sure you added enough oil and replace the oil cap.
3. Check the Liquid Levels in an Engine
Before checking the level of any liquids in an engine, make sure your car is cool. Wear an LED headlamp so you can see the fluid levels well. You can also use an LED flashlight, but you risk getting grease on it. The coolant and break fluids are in white opaque containers. You can measure the amount of oil, power steering fluid and transmission fluid with their respective dipsticks.
4. Check the Tire Pressure
Tires can go flat at any time of day. In lieu of kicking the tires to see if they are full enough, strap on an LED headlamp (or use an LED flashlight) and grab a tire gauge. Remove the cap from the valve stem on the tire and press the tire gauge onto the valve stem until you no longer hear air escaping from the tire. Remove the gauge from the valve stem, replace the cap and compare the gauge’s reading to the tire manufacturer’s recommended air pressure level.
5. Detailing the Interior of Your Car
Use an LED flashlight to help you see under the seats if you detail a car during the day. Otherwise, use an LED headlamp if you detail the car in low light levels or want to work hands-free. First, remove the floor mats and vacuum them before vacuuming the entire interior of the car. Use a small carpet shampooer for stains. Clean the windows with a window cleaner in a spray bottle and paper towels. Then, using a cleaner safe for the interior of cars, wipe down the dashboard, steering wheel column, console, cup holders and any non-upholstered surface. Use an old toothbrush and cotton swabs for small or hard to reach spaces.
Using an LED headlamp and flashlight can make car maintenance easier and safer. If you are not sure about how to perform a maintenance task, talk to a professional mechanic to get some pointers.
[Photo by: Hjalmer Duenow]